This week two powerful public officials, the transport secretary and a senator, separately rode the MRT 3. This is earthshaking news: the high and mighty actually RODE public transport.
Not that there's anything with the MRT, of course. It's perfectly safe and efficient, if you discount the fact that it's overloaded, overcrowded, breaks down on odd and even days, and sometimes, just for variety, plows through the restraining barrier in its terminus.
All right, so maybe it isn't so OK. That's why what the two officials did is great. It will surely open the eyes of those in power to the truth about the MRT – namely that it's a TERRIFIC way to get free publicity with just a year and a half to go before elections.
Soon, we can expect to see officials take the MRT Challenge, riding trains to convince the public that they, too, are just simple and humble folk. They'll probably try to behave just like ordinary passengers going to work, trying to fit in with their aides, PR assistants, close-in security and accompanying TV reporters, camera crews and make-up artists.
What I'm concerned with is that the MRT Challenge might get out of hand, as politicians elbow each other aside, tearing each other's hair as they scramble to get on board the train with their respective entourages. So I propose a few simple rules that will allow the public to accurately rate a politician's performance and compare their scores.
It's simple: to complete the MRT Challenge, the politician must:
(1) Go to either the North or South terminus of the MRT 7 a.m. of a working day
(2) Fall in line properly along with all the other passengers
(3) Buy a ticket
(4) Wait for the train along with everyone
(5) Board and ride the train, avoiding the first car which is reserved for women (unless you're a woman, or a man trying to say something which we'd rather not know about)
(6) Exit the train at the other terminus
Any politician who completes all these automatically gets 100 points. That score is modified as follows:
Accompanied by assistants – minus 5 points per assistant
Tries to buy ticket with a thousand peso bill – minus 5 points
Tries to buy ticket using credit card – minus 7 points
Hands out “vote me” election leaflets – minus 5 points
Shouts “are you saying amalayer!” to a train security guard - minus 10 points
Makes condescending “choo-choo” sound – minus 10 points
Arrives at terminal in chauffeured luxury car – minus 40 points
Orders chauffeured luxury car to drive up the steps – minus 50 points
Aide holds open umbrella over politician's head – minus 15 points
It's not raining – minus 20 points
During train ride, politicians' goons shoot pickpockets - minus 40 points
Politician's goons ARE pickpockets – minus 60 points
Politician helps goons pick pockets – minus 90 points
Says at the end “it was a nice trip” – thrown into the tracks
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